The 6th part
of Timothy Noah's, Slate 10-part series, is titled "The Great Divergence
and the Death of Organized Labor." It gives a summary of the changes organized
labor has experienced since the 1930's and different analysts' take on its
effect on the economy. What I found interesting, given the current uproar in
Wisconsin, was the different takes on collective bargaining. Noah explains how
Truman coaxed the Chamber of
Commerce President into saying, "Labor unions are woven into our economic
pattern of American life, and collective bargaining is part of the democratic
process. I say recognize this fact not only with our lips but with our hearts"
in an effort to continue the labor peace that had reigned during the war. He
also notes a very different interpretation that came under the Reagan
administration with Reagan'schair of the National Labor Relations Board, Donald Dotson, who believedcollective bargaining led to "the
destruction of individual freedom."
thousands are protesting in Wisconsin to protect collective bargaining rights
and the debate over the Governor's proposal is being framed as the necessity of
balancing the budget and the need for state workers to sacrifice for the
greater good vs. an attack on collective bargaining an labor rights.
It's clear that
unions' have an effect on income inequality and the article points to many
economists published findings. Harvard economist Richard Freeman found in 1980that at the national level, unions' net
inequality.Which is supported by Berkley economist David Card who in 2001 found that between
15 and 20 percent of the Great Divergence among men was due to the decline in
Do you think that
limiting the collective bargaining power of unions will have an effect on the
Great Divergence like the decline in union membership did? Are strong unions necessary
for a reduction of income inequality, and should there even be a reduction of
income inequality? Also, what are everyone's thoughts on how the Wisconsin debate
is being framed by the media and by politicians on both sides?